Wanted: extinction, not attention

Even as I traveled to Phoenix to do the day-long Transformational Giving seminar yesterday, I should have been fixated on the joy of having been able to do the seminar in shirt sleeves rather than a suit (way to go, PHX! Our largest crowd and the best weather so far!)

Instead, I’ve been inexplicably fixated this week on David Meerman Scott’s assertion that what we’re all really after is ‘attention for our companies’.

My final word on the discussion, drawn from my truly enjoyable time with Phoenix folks yesterday, comes from Willie Cheng, author of Doing Good Well: What Does (and Does Not) Make Sense in the Nonprofit World.

Cheng contends that there is something nonprofit organizations should want more than attention.


According to Cheng, ‘the ultimate aim of a charity is to be extinct’:

Individual charities are set up to solve specific societal issues, and hence should be working themselves out of a job by finding the solutions.

It’s modulated slightly differently than we would say it (in TG, we’d say that the role of institutions is to build up God’s people and then become extinct when God’s people reach maturity in the cause), but the principle is the same: nonprofits are intended to be nonpermanent. They’re designed to seek extinction, not attention.

What would happen if your nonprofit set a ten year limit on achieving its purpose, at which point it would automatically dissolve?

Or, in a more TG vein, what would happen if your nonprofit set a ten year limit on transmitting its purpose so fully to its champions and partners that it no longer needed to exist?

Perhaps the animosity between churches and nonprofits would decline if nonprofits declared and practiced their impermanence.

About Pastor Foley

The Reverend Dr. Eric Foley is CEO and Co-Founder, with his wife Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, supporting the work of persecuted Christians in North Korea and around the world and spreading their discipleship practices worldwide. He is the former International Ambassador for the International Christian Association, the global fellowship of Voice of the Martyrs sister ministries. Pastor Foley is a much sought after speaker, analyst, and project consultant on the North Korean underground church, North Korean defectors, and underground church discipleship. He and Dr. Foley oversee a far-flung staff across Asia that is working to help North Koreans and Christians everywhere grow to fullness in Christ. He earned the Doctor of Management at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio.
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4 Responses to Wanted: extinction, not attention

  1. Spence says:

    Spot on Eric…love it! See you manana for the Colorado seminar.

  2. Pingback: The Five Biggest Misconceptions About Transformational Giving, Part V: ‘Champions are primarily representatives of my organization’ « Transformational Giving

  3. Pingback: Five things I think I think about TG, Part I: Nonprofit as Church Renewal Movement « Transformational Giving

  4. Pingback: The Best Gift Your Nonprofit Can Give the World: A Viable Plan to Go Out of Business | Transformational Giving

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